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How Long Are Cats Supposed to Sleep?

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How many of us enjoy taking a little catnap during the day, just a short little snooze
to relax us? The term "catnap" may lead you to wonder, Just how long are cats
supposed to sleep?
 
Most cats snooze around 16 hours per day. The majority of their sleep time,
however, is much shorter than the typical seven hours or so that humans average at
night. Cats tend to sleep lightly, without going into a deep sleep.
 
As is the case with dogs (as I've often pondered about my lucky chihuahua, Angel),
what else do they have to do most of the day? Along with their daily routine of
eating, grooming, scratching and playing, our pets don’t face much to stop them
from getting some shut-eye now and then.
 
It is normal that, as natural predators, cats sleep that long. Napping so much
during the day could be easily explained by the fact that cats are, for the most part,
nocturnal hunters. But actually, cats are crepuscular, meaning that they are more
active around dawn and dusk (when their prey is out and about). Cats are less active
through the middle of the day and the middle of the night. Rather than sleeping for
one long stretch, felines alternate sleep and activity throughout the day.
 
Two Stages of Sleep
 
Just as with humans, cats have different sleep stages. During slow-wave sleep, the
kitty is dozing very lightly, easily awakened by the slightest sound, such as the
chirping of a nearby bird. About three-fourths of a cat's sleep (around 12 hours) is in
this mode.
 
Meanwhile, during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, the cat’s eyes will move
rapidly back and forth. This stage is critical in the cat’s body growth and restoration.
REM signals “dream” sleep in humans, and it is believed by many experts that cats
also dream. When your kitty is this stage of sleep, you may notice her whiskers
twitching or her eyes moving behind the eyelids.
 
Cats sleep more than most other mammals. So, exactly how long are cats supposed
to sleep? Your “queen of catnaps” probably spends about two-thirds of her life
snoozing. That is twice as much as we sleep! Of course, sleeping habits also depend
on the pet’s age, as well as the temperature and the weather. What better way to
spend a cool, rainy day?
 
Watch for Sudden Changes in Habits
 
One word of caution, while we’re on the topic: Pay attention to your kitty’s sleeping
habits. While some change in pattern is normal, a big change can signal problems. If
your cat seems sluggish or depressed, she could be ill. Sleeping less than usual could
be a sign of a thyroid problem, among other possible ailments.
 
Contact your veterinarian when you become aware of any changes in your cat’s
normal sleep routine.
 
Gayle Hickman writes cat and dog behavior articles for Pets Adviser, a pet advice blog.
Some of Gayle's recent articles include “Why Does My Cat Drool When She Purrs?
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